CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cultural venues ask patrons to keep eyes on the show, security

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: If you notice something suspicious at a play, musical or concert Downtown, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust wants you to alert an usher or call 911.

The trust announced Monday that it has partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s nationwide awareness program “If You See Something, Say Something.”

3 comments:

Benjamin King said...

I have been attending the Broadway Series at the Benedum Center since I was probably about 7 or 8 years old. To see this being implemented brings up a lot of thoughts about my role as a theatregoer. It also brings up the very real subject of threat in entertainment venues. This article made me reflect on what I would consider ‘a subconscious mini ritual’ of going to see a show. The entire act of having the usher scan your ticket, contemplating if you want a drink for intermission, finding your seat, browsing through the program, turning of your phone, and settling into your seat for the next couple of hours is something that is really special to me. To add an extra step in there that may slow it down a little bit, is justified in every way to keep the theatre safe. It also makes me wonder in 10-15 years on what scale this program will be implemented? Will we ever see this at a collegiate performance?

Rachel said...

I’m so very conflicted about this. It’s right that venues are taking steps to ensure a safer environment. I know audience members need to be empowered to speak up if they see something suspicious and I know this empowerment requires a public campaign. Often, people are conflicted when they see something that makes them uncomfortable: they feel guilty for feeling suspicious, they’re afraid of being wrong, or they feel like it’s someone else responsibility. This campaign does help remove some of those “hesitations.”

Having said that, I can’t help but feel that this will only increase audience members’ anxiety. In the last few years, I’ve become increasingly on edge in large venues: there’s not a baseball game, movie theater, and theatre performance I’ve attended where I haven’t thought, if only in passing, about the possibility of mass violence. I think about it fairly frequently just here at school. Signs and campaigns warning me to be “on the lookout” will only heighten the atmosphere of potential danger and I’m not sure that’s healthy.

Amanda Courtney said...

I think this is an excellent step in the right direction in terms of event security and safety. Often times the audience is the largest potential asset in the case of a crisis or event happening at a theatrical performance, and they are frequently the most disregarded, overlooked, and uneducated resource. This movement an important step in changing that. I think even though many public events are policed, that allows the incorrect notion or belief that an event goer is not directly responsible for their own safety. My parents it abundantly clear as I was growing up that I was my own best, and most reliable resource. Instead of handing the care of my safety off to others, I could raise my level of awareness and be my own best protection. While I think police presence is still important, having a more informed, aware, and self-reliant audience base is also an important move.